finding a teacher.

finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Tue May 22, 2012 8:25 pm

i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year, and he doesn't really do email, so i've decided that realistically i should start looking for a new one in my area because i'm struggling with some practice issues and getting instruction once a year or less is not enough. i have been to a couple of temples and contacted a couple more but all i find is dharma talks directed at a fairly large group of people which is no better than simply reading a book on dharma or watching or listening to a tape of a dharma talk (other than that you can ask questions at some, but it's still a far cry from having a teacher willing to help you specifically). am i missing something? how does one go about finding a teacher for personal instruction as opposed to just giving generalized speeches for a group?

the way i found my old teacher was through taking a class at a temple, the instructor told the abbott about me and the abbott offered to take me as a student. this seems like a pretty round about way to find a teacher and involves a lot of chance as i doubt everyone does it this way. my teacher before that was very casual and taught at a center, not a temple, and i knew him through a friend, so again, not always the case.

also, how in the world do i know if i'm wasting my time or not? can one ever really know? if a teacher is simply really good at playing the part, but has no real insight, how can i tell? not to contradict myself, but i'm very certain my most recent teacher was the real deal, but then again, how can i know for sure?
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Wesley1982 » Tue May 22, 2012 8:37 pm

Maybe some Buddhists have mystical powers that allow them to communicate with each other over long distances. :?:
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Konchog1 » Tue May 22, 2012 8:54 pm

Frank wrote:i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year
That's the way in used to be. Try and use the phone to talk to him, or simply visit him more often. Going to a different teacher should be a last resort.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Tue May 22, 2012 9:34 pm

Konchog1 wrote:
Frank wrote:i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year
That's the way in used to be. Try and use the phone to talk to him, or simply visit him more often. Going to a different teacher should be a last resort.

i have been telling myself this for two years but it seems unrealistic as i never have the time to visit. we don't have a casual enough relationship to chat on the phone. every time i've met with him it was very formal and the meetings were set up by me talking to someone else at the temple on the phone or email to set up a meeting. he lives in a building with no phone, the phone is in the main hall so it's not like ''hey, is sifu in? can he come to the phone ?'' when i lived near, this was no problem but now it doesn't work.
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Konchog1 » Tue May 22, 2012 9:52 pm

Frank wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Frank wrote:i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year
That's the way in used to be. Try and use the phone to talk to him, or simply visit him more often. Going to a different teacher should be a last resort.

i have been telling myself this for two years but it seems unrealistic as i never have the time to visit. we don't have a casual enough relationship to chat on the phone. every time i've met with him it was very formal and the meetings were set up by me talking to someone else at the temple on the phone or email to set up a meeting. he lives in a building with no phone, the phone is in the main hall so it's not like ''hey, is sifu in? can he come to the phone ?'' when i lived near, this was no problem but now it doesn't work.
Well, call anyway. The worst they can say is "no, go away". And ask your teacher's advice about this situation.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby kirtu » Tue May 22, 2012 10:51 pm

Frank wrote:also, how in the world do i know if i'm wasting my time or not? can one ever really know? if a teacher is simply really good at playing the part, but has no real insight, how can i tell? not to contradict myself, but i'm very certain my most recent teacher was the real deal, but then again, how can i know for sure?


In Zen it doesn't matter that much as long as they are not off the deep end, more or less. You could have an unrealized teacher (one who (a) hasn't realized kensho or (b) is only authorized to teach sitting) in Zen because the realization is yours to manifest and the manifestation arises from practice. Of course it's best to have as good a Zen teacher as possible but we don't have all these great Zen teachers everywhere.

Check out the lineage and see what the other people say about them. Some lineages will not resonate with you, some will, some teachers will not resonate with you, some will, some teachers in a lineage that you aren't comfortable in might still resonate with you. Follow your intuition on this matter. In the old days students went from one teacher to the other until they found someone right for them. Also learn and digest the teachings of the old Buddhas. Some of them are now Westerners so don't neglect them.

When I first started sitting zazen, Taisen Deshimaru was very important to me and was able to speak to me through the notes of his students in Paris from the early 80's. At the exact time he was teaching I had no time for serious spirituality. Nonetheless I read the notes of his talks in the late 80's and that revolutionized my perceptions. It can happen like that. However it happens your wisdom mind can begin to manifest as long as the circumstances are conducive.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Astus » Tue May 22, 2012 10:56 pm

You might also think a bit about what kind of guidance you want. It is a bit unrealistic to keep wondering about another's inner qualities without actually knowing them. In fact, anyone who has studied Buddhism for a couple of years and practised meditation can give sensible advice. You just have to open your ears for it.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby MuMun » Wed May 23, 2012 3:55 am

Frank wrote:i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year, and he doesn't really do email, so i've decided that realistically i should start looking for a new one in my area because i'm struggling with some practice issues and getting instruction once a year or less is not enough...

also, how in the world do i know if i'm wasting my time or not? can one ever really know? if a teacher is simply really good at playing the part, but has no real insight, how can i tell? not to contradict myself, but i'm very certain my most recent teacher was the real deal, but then again, how can i know for sure?


There have been several excellent answers above, and I don't feel inclined to contradict any of them.

Here is one radical suggestion I don't think anyone suggested yet: moving closer to this teacher. Twenty years ago, I uprooted everything and moved to be closer to a teacher. Gave up a job, gave up an affordable place to live in NYC, gave up a romance, moved hundreds of miles. This did not turn out how I expected, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I understand there are probably a million very practical reasons that moving closer to your teacher seems crazy and impractical. And perhaps it truly is impossible. However, maybe it isn't. Spend a little time with that idea.

If you are worried about wasting your time, beware of wanting something from your practice. A sense of urgency is good. Your questions are good, too. Keep practicing. And as for the next question -- if you keep practicing, you'll smell whether a teacher is full of it or not. You'll also notice there are teachers and teachings everywhere.
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Wed May 23, 2012 9:17 pm

MuMun wrote:
Frank wrote:i live six hours away from my teacher these days, i haven't been to see him in over a year, and he doesn't really do email, so i've decided that realistically i should start looking for a new one in my area because i'm struggling with some practice issues and getting instruction once a year or less is not enough...

also, how in the world do i know if i'm wasting my time or not? can one ever really know? if a teacher is simply really good at playing the part, but has no real insight, how can i tell? not to contradict myself, but i'm very certain my most recent teacher was the real deal, but then again, how can i know for sure?


There have been several excellent answers above, and I don't feel inclined to contradict any of them.

Here is one radical suggestion I don't think anyone suggested yet: moving closer to this teacher. Twenty years ago, I uprooted everything and moved to be closer to a teacher. Gave up a job, gave up an affordable place to live in NYC, gave up a romance, moved hundreds of miles. This did not turn out how I expected, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I understand there are probably a million very practical reasons that moving closer to your teacher seems crazy and impractical. And perhaps it truly is impossible. However, maybe it isn't. Spend a little time with that idea.

If you are worried about wasting your time, beware of wanting something from your practice. A sense of urgency is good. Your questions are good, too. Keep practicing. And as for the next question -- if you keep practicing, you'll smell whether a teacher is full of it or not. You'll also notice there are teachers and teachings everywhere.


:good: interesting advice and i thank you, however it is impossible for me to move near him. i find teachings everywhere. i own large amounts of the sutras and some commentaries and i do a lot of reading on line, so i'm not hurting for dharma, there are just a few of my practices that i feel need clarification and tweaking. i think i'm going to make a new topic that just asks "how do i find a teacher?" and not mention that i technically have one since everyone just keeps saying i should stick with him and no one is giving me advice on finding a new one :tongue:
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Paul » Wed May 23, 2012 9:22 pm

This may sound stupid, but have you considered writing a letter to him? Seems like the obvious answer to me.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Wed May 23, 2012 9:31 pm

Paul wrote:This may sound stupid, but have you considered writing a letter to him? Seems like the obvious answer to me.


not a bad idea. thanks.
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Fri May 25, 2012 12:50 am

Frank wrote:
Paul wrote:This may sound stupid, but have you considered writing a letter to him? Seems like the obvious answer to me.


not a bad idea. thanks.



and also: lol, a letter! when i was young that's how we did things! now that we live in the techno age i didn't even consider it! that's hilarious.
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby Frank » Fri May 25, 2012 6:45 am

screw it, you guys are right. i'm going to try to schedule time to go see him. thanks.
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Re: finding a teacher.

Postby MuMun » Fri May 25, 2012 2:13 pm

Frank wrote:screw it, you guys are right. i'm going to try to schedule time to go see him. thanks.


:twothumbsup:
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